Emilia Clarke

Dragon tamer 

Words: Holger Potye
Photography: Getty Images 

Season 5 of Game of Thrones is going to be a big one for Daenerys Targaryen. Actress Emilia Clarke talks to The Red Bulletin about raising dragons, being a Halloween hit and girl power

THE RED BULLETIN: How is it going with the dragons?

EMILIA CLARKE: My parenting skills are being really tested. The dragons are teenagers now, so they are acting up a bit. We left them in quite a precarious place in season 4. So season 5 starts with a bang.

Which baby is your favourite?

Ah, mums are not meant to have favourites. But probably Drogon, the biggest one.

Season 5 of Game of Thrones premieres on HBO on April 12 

Daenerys has developed a very interesting relationship with Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel) over the seasons. It’s like a girl power team, and your character seems to have learned to ask for advice…

Yeah, she is definitely learning. I think that because Ser Jorah (Mormont) has always been her confident and her advisor throughout the first couple of seasons and as that relationship is kind of deteriorated she has had to look elsewhere. She values and respects Missandei’s clear sightedness, because Missandei is kind of a constant and Daenerys is seeing that she needs to have that sensitivity when being advised, but at the same time she sees how much power she can give Missandei. So that kind of push and pull of the relationship makes it much more of an equal relationship which she hasn’t had in her advisors before. In the past she was always being advised by someone older and wiser, whereas this is a much more of a contemporary for her.

Do you think the evolution of the character has been too slow since the first season?

This season is probably the biggest one that Daenerys has had since season 1 in terms of what she is learning in the arc itself, and how much actually happens to her within the season. She kind of went off with a bang in season 1 and then has had to learn so much whilst covering so much physical ground, and that has slowed her down. She has decided to stay put this season and because of that has learned quite a lot.

She is a most extraordinary character. Do they see yourself as a role model?

It is the most fulfilling and wonderful part of the job to be able to think that you might actually inspire someone in that way. To give someone confidence, and especially give young girls confidence.


Emilia Clarke

All Smiles 

Emilia Clarke (far right) with fellow Game of Thrones actors Maisie Williams and Kit Harington 

© Kevin Mazur/WireImage/Getty Images 

Would you say your character is seen as a feminine icon?

Absolutely! I am a huge advocator of female power, and I feel like we are beginning to even things out as much as possible. It has become much less of a tabu than it ever was to be able to be a strong woman. It’s not so much of a big thing anymore to sort of say, “I am a feminist.” It is much more expected of women nowadays but to still be an advocator of that and to encourage young girls growing up to have strength and confidence in their own femininity, and to know that they are entering a world that is much more even is a wonderful thing.

“I am a huge advocator of female power”
Emilia Clarke

What do you have in common with your character Daenerys?

I would like to think that there are some similarities that I have, but I am definitely more of an idiot than she is.

Are we going to see any sort of romantic encounters for Daenerys in the new season?

Well we left her in season 4 in a sort of a romantic setting, although it’s more lust than it is love. She is down to business. (Laughs.)

Many compelling women in the series seem to have and hold power because they are aware of how much persuasiveness their physicality gives them. Do you agree?

I think that the reason why the women in the show are so incredibly powerful is because they can harness both the feminine and the masculine side within themselves. I think that to have the ability to be able to be sensitive, to acknowledge that sensitivity and then add strength to that is what makes it so much more powerful. For women to know that they are women and to not be afraid of accepting that is much more powerful than to deny it in my opinion.

You have been on the show for so long. Was there something special about this season?

Yeah, there really was. I can’t give away anything, but overall there is quite a special feeling throughout the entire season. Not just because it’s bigger than it has ever been and because there are more shocking moments, but there is so much more heart to be found, especially in my own storyline.

Daenerys has become an iconic character. You played another iconic character - Sarah Connor in Terminator Genisys So what’s the next step? Are you going to be Ripley in Alien?

I know, exactly. Ah, no! The next movie I am doing actually is quite the opposite. It is kind of like Bridget Jones. It is very much a step back from the iconic strong women I have played. I play a much more vulnerable and relatable character.

Who is more difficult to play: Daenerys or Sarah Connor?

They have both got their own complexities and different facets to them. Daenerys starts off as a vulnerable young girl and grows into a woman. We meet Sarah Connor when she is already a hard ass. She is already strong and badass and her arc is inverted from Daenerys’ in that she has to harness her insensitivity to be able to be what she needs to be. So it’s nice to have both.

Can you tell us a little bit about working with Arnold Schwarzenegger? How is Arnie?

Well he is bloody lovely! He is just … he is wonderful. You see him and you are like: “Oh my god, iconic man standing in front of me that I am acting with all the time.” And then he is just completely normal and lovely and eats lunch with everyone and is just great.

Back to Game of Thrones. Why do you think the series has done so well in so many different countries?

I think that we are talking about universal issues that are relatable regardless of language or culture, and I think that David (Benioff) and Dan (Weiss)’s writing is testimony to that. They are absolute geniuses and they have written beautiful scripts that put so many other things to shame. I think that the complexity of these characters performed by the cast with such ease makes it incredibly relatable, but at the same time it is still a fantasy that you can escape to.

Is there a character in the seven kingdoms that could be the love of her life? 

The Hound … (Laughs.) I am seriously into the Hound. I really think I’d be really good with the Hound. It’s the hound for God’s sake! 

“Arnold Schwarzenegger is just so bloody lovely”
Emilia Clarke

Are there any English politicians that would feel comfortable in Westeros?
That’s a good question. Cameron, maybe? Sitting in King’s Landing, buying a lot of children. (Laughs.)

I remember Aidan Gillen said that he based Littlefinger on Peter Mandelson. Would you say there are some parallels, let’s say between you and Margaret Thatcher?

I am nicer than Maggie, aren’t I? (Laughs.) She privatised everything; I am trying to make everything free!

Would people recognise you if you went to a costume party dressed as Daenerys?

Probably not, because I can’t get my hands on the actual wig, so I would probably come up with some rubbish, terrible costume.

“Yep, still a wig! Still not my own hair!“

This hair thing must take forever?

Yeah, it takes two and a half hours in the chair. It’s an early start.

You are one of the most popular Halloween costumes at the moment…

Yeah, and I love it. Someone showed me the naked Daenerys. Where I wear like a bodysuit with just a couple of dragons in the appropriate areas. I was like: “That is wicked. And look how little they are!“

What was the most surprising thing a fan said to you Game of Thrones

It’s all pretty surprising. The biggest thing seems continue to be: “Oh my god it’s a wig!“ And I am like: “Yep, still a wig! Still not my own hair.“

How does it feel to have your own action figure?

Yeah, that’s weird. Creepy. Sort of looks like a man in drag. Very strong jaw.

Have there been entertaining stories on set?

Plenty … that aren’t for journalist’s ears. 

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